Elementary students with an inclination toward fine arts or engineering and technology will have the chance to explore those interests in even more depth next school year.
The Mission Consolidated Independent School District recently announced that two of their elementary schools will now have focuses in either arts (Salinas Elementary) or engineering and technology (Leal Elementary).
Fine Arts Academy and School of Technology and Engineering
Superintendent Carol Perez said the district is excited to implement the focuses, and added that the campuses at MCISD already have faculty with experience in these subjects.
“One of the things our staff is very in tune with is the fact that we want to provide children with a wholesome curriculum,” Perez said. “It not only meets their academic needs, but also their social and emotional (needs).”
According to a press release from MCISD, the district has been looking for ways to improve what campuses offer to families.
“Now we’re in an era of school choice,” Perez said. “We know that children have a variety of learning styles, and at the same time they have various talents.”
Perez quoted developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, saying that there are multiple intelligences and children have a variety of smarts.
“Some are very artistic, others thrive with mathematics or technology,” Perez said. “Our campuses are very unique as well. The staff bring very unique skills.”
She noted that it is important for parents to know that these opportunities are available for their children to grow and get the most out of their education.
“Our staff if very innovative,” Perez said. “We have a very good place in robotics and STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] and so forth, and we just want to support our efforts.”
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Sharon Roberts said that children at MCISD will have their interests met as the focuses are embedded into their lesson plans.
“We’re looking at different ways to really engage students with the curriculum,” Roberts said. “They don’t always come to school for math and science and social studies, but they will come for other things. And when they can see the relationship, that helps the students to be more in tune with the content.”
Perez added that because children are naturally curious, applying these focuses at the elementary level provides a seamless application for students.
“As the staff works either with STEM or the fine arts, they’re able to weave that into the basics,” Perez said. “That really hooks children into the learning process.”
The district has already began accepting transfer requests for the focus schools, and forms can be picked up at central office, either Leal or Salinas Elementary schools, or online at the MCISD website, www.mcisd.net.
“Our staff has already been doing these things, it just has not been marketed much,” Perez said. “And now, we feel that we want to offer those same opportunities and the choice to our parents in the district.”
MCISD staff is ready for more in this regard, and Perez said they will be receiving more professional development and resources to “continue enhancing what they already have as a framework.”
The Pre-K3 program at MCISD will be available at three schools. According to a press release from the district the Salinas Elementary School Fine Arts Academy will serve northern students, Escobar/Rios Elementary School will serve the more central areas of the district; and Leal Elementary School of Technology and Engineering will serve the southern area.
“The governor’s priority is Pre-K,” Perez said. “We know that early childhood provides that strong foundation for student success, and we want to make sure that our children, our second-language learners or economically disadvantaged have opportunities to develop pre-literacy and numerous skills.”
Space for these children will be limited so in order to be eligible, students “must be at least three years of age on September 1, 2019 and meet certain state eligibility requirements, including: unable to speak and comprehend the English language, be eligible for National School Lunch Program. Other criteria that can qualify a student for the Pre-K3 program include: be the child of an active duty member of the armed forces or the reserves, been in foster care, is the child of a person eligible for the Star of Texas Award-qualifying peace officers, firefighters, or emergency medical first responders.”
Perez said that because the Pre-K programs in the state are a priority, hopefully more funding will eventually open up so more students can benefit and the MCISD program can grow.
“As the legislature provides that funding for Pre-K, we’re able to shift resources and reach out to our 3-year-old children,” Perez said. “But of course, that curriculum has to be very multi-sensory, very age-appropriate, so we’re already preparing with the resources that we currently have to start opening our doors.”
The district is excited to include these new resources for parents.